If you’re a smoker, you are likely well aware of the risks, particularly concerning your dental health and oral hygiene. The likelihood of you needing a dental or oral procedure at some point during your life increases significantly, and smoking can cause all sorts of issues with your teeth and gums. But if you’ve recently undergone a major dental procedure, you might be wondering: can you smoke after a root canal? What happens if you do or don’t?
In this post, we look at what happens in a root canal procedure, what smoking does to your teeth and gums, and how smoking affects you after your root canal.
What is a Root Canal, and Why Would You Need One?
Over half of adults in the United States have had to get a root canal procedure before 50. A root canal involves removing the innermost central layer of the tooth, known as the pulp. Then, the doctor puts in gutta-percha – a biologically unreactive substance – to fill the gap.
The pulp is rich with blood vessels and nerves that performed this job when the tooth was growing. Since adult teeth can survive on nourishment from the tissue surrounding them, they do not strictly need the pulp. However, the pulp can become infected or inflamed, and this is when a root canal is necessary to save the tooth from dying.
So, What about Smoking?
You really shouldn’t smoke after a root canal, as doctors and experts have established clinically significant evidence against it.
In the days following your root canal, your body is recovering from a surgical procedure. Your mouth is likely to feel sore, tender, or numb, and smoking can lead to complications within the oral tissue.
Toxic particles and noxious gases are released in cigarette smoke, and these can delay your recovery period at the least. When they come in contact with the already sensitive, delicate tissue in your mouth, they effectively poison it. Moreover, smoking decreases blood flow to tissues inside your body, including the gums. Reduced blood flow is caused by vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels in areas of the body. As a result, nutrients and oxygen are in limited supply to your gums, and this prolongs recovery time. In severe cases, it can cause unforeseen issues that may need you to revisit the dentist.
Interestingly, smoking can dramatically increase the chances of needing a root canal in the first place. If you’ve already had one, it increases the chances of needing another one in the future.
According to research published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers studied a group of 811 men over three decades. They were able to determine that those who smoked cigarettes were 70% more likely to need a root canal than non-smokers. The risk increases the longer you’ve been smoking.
If you’ve just had a root canal, now is the best time to consider dropping the habit altogether. Research suggests that nine years after you’ve quit smoking, your risk of needing root canal treatment decreases to the level of someone who has never smoked.
Conclusion: Make Healthy Choices
Quitting smoking earlier leads to definite improvements in many facets of your health, and the longer you stay smoke-free, the greater the benefits.
At Lone Star Dental Center, we have a lot of experience performing root canal treatment. Give us a call at (281) 233-0333, and we’ll be happy to help you with your dental health today.